Business Project Manager Career Profile

Business project managers work across all industries. Project management has become an academic as well as a business career stream in its own right, and for some people it's exactly the right medium to excel.

Project managers require advanced business skills and the ability to work independently to a large extent. The nature of business projects is extremely variable. A project may be a relatively small operation of a small group of people over a few months, or involve hundreds of people and run for several years.

The Project Work Environment

Project management is a role which includes all aspects of managing a project from planning to completion. A business project may be a specific operation or a program related to an organization's operational situation. The organization creates a separate operational group to run the project. Project managers are usually outsourced on a contract basis, depending on the requirements of the project.

The project manager is usually hired at the inception stage, and is responsible for all aspects of project operations from the start. In many cases the project manager does the initial costing and budget estimates for the project as well. The project manager is effectively the senior manager of the project, and may have a range of other managers under them.

A project manager is responsible for quite literally everything to do with a project:

  • Completion of the project, on budget, and on schedule.
  • Administration
  • Accounts
  • Information systems
  • Project records
  • Expenditure
  • Contracts
  • Meeting specific project goals according to preset goals
  • Logistics management
  • Daily management of all operations
  • Staff management including hiring and firing
  • Reporting functions
  • Some managers also act as spokespeople or representatives for major projects under delegation from organization management

Project management differs considerably from "routine" business management. A project has its own individual issues, strategic perspectives and projects are self contained business units which often operate outside the parameters of an organization's normal business activities. The fact that projects are based on a series of specific operational stages and conducted over a set period of time is another quite different environment to normal management practices.

Wages: Very variable, depending on contract for outsourced managers. Median salary is $74,000 for a manager with 5 years experience.

Hours: Nominally standard business hours, but usually much longer hours on a necessary basis.

The Career Environment

Some business managers make excellent careers out of project management, building resumes with important credentials across a wider range of business than would be possible in single stream management. Many project managers have several areas of expertise, and are specialists in particular fields, often with multiple qualifications. Others have broad spectrum qualifications like MBAs which allow a respectable range of project options.

Project managers have a very high degree of natural job mobility through the nature of their work. Career progression in project management can be rapid compared to single stream management, using a series of projects to systematically build credentials.